From the press release:
A new research report released today outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to red-light and speed camera vendors….The report, titled “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public” finds that approximately half of states have enabled the use of automated traffic law enforcement. Municipalities in these states contract with private companies to provide cameras and issue citations to traffic violators. Citizens have often objected to privatized forms of traffic enforcement and many municipalities have found themselves in legal trouble when they attempt to change or update these contracts. Traffic engineering alternatives, such as lengthening yellow lights, are often the best way to reduce injuries from red-light running. However, those solutions too often get ignored because contractors and sometimes municipalities are more focused on increasing revenue from tickets….
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Facing a budget crunch, Atlanta Public Schools wants to replace about half its custodial staff with contract workers. Staffers were told of the plans this week. “We were informed that our facilities department had to be downsized by 100 employees,” said Dorothy White, a custodian at APS for 28 years….School system spokesman Keith Bromery placed the number of job cuts closer to 75 of the 150 custodians on staff….Bromery said Superintendent Erroll Davis wants to keep custodial staffers only at elementary schools, and only during the day. Contractors will clean overnight at all schools and during the day at middle schools and high schools, he said….
…For-profit colleges are widely accused of using high-pressure recruiting tactics, offering sub-par educations and burying students in debt. …Long said taxpayers should be furious with what he calls a waste of taxpayer dollars. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, for-profit colleges took in $32 billion taxpayer dollars through federal financial aid in the 2009-2010 school year. Students who attended for-profit colleges are defaulting on their loans more often than students who attended public and private nonprofit schools. According to a recent congressional investigation, 44 percent of all student loan default comes from for-profit colleges, although their students make up only 10 percent of students pursuing higher education…
…Atlanta’s parking enforcement started rankling residents almost immediately after it was outsourced in 2009. The controversy has quieted somewhat but has not disappeared….Milwaukee-based Duncan Solutions, which does business as ParkAtlanta, installed hundreds of meters in 2010, within months of winning the contract. After residents complained about the aggressive new approach, the City Council restricted ParkAtlanta’s operations with a moratorium on new meters and reduced hours.
That boomeranged on the city when an arbitrator ruled late last year that, because of those restrictions, the company would only be required to pay the city $1.5 million per year — a 73 percent reduction from the $5.5 million originally agreed to. The $4 million difference is enough to pay for 50 police officers, said Duriya Farooqui, the city’s chief operating officer….
Georgia State University’s decision this month to replace its counseling center staff with outsourced employees is worrying those in the field, who say such moves are extremely rare and will likely prove detrimental to the mental health services available to students.
The shift is doubly troubling because a number of former staff members (as well as others in the field) are accusing the university of outsourcing services as a retaliation for their complaints that some university policies involving the counseling center had the potential to hurt students. While the outsourcing was announced shortly after the complaints were made, the university says there was no relationship between the two developments.
The crucial education debates in Georgia and New Jersey this year haven’t all centered around money. To a great extent, they have centered around power: Who has the power to create new charter schools? ….. Legislators in Georgia voted recently to make it easier for the state to approve new charter schools, regardless of whether local authorities want them or not. Their measure awaits voter approval. In New Jersey, the legislature is considering a measure to slow down the state’s approval of charters, by requiring local endorsement of each charter application.
Coordinated efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization…….Common throughout the bills are proposals to decrease local control of schools by democratically elected school boards while increasing access to all facets of education to private entities and corporations…. By elevating parental choice over all other values, the ALEC push for privatization supports schools that can be segregated by academic ability and disability, ethnicity, economics, language, and culture.
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The University System of Georgia is consolidating eight of the state’s 35 colleges and universities in a move that may be replicated around the country as higher education institutions continue to deal with state budget cuts.
The move is part of the city’s effort to get tough on violators and tear down eyesores.
Atlanta is toughening its building codes enforcement – with the emphasis on enforcement. In February, the city put the civilian codes enforcement department under police direction, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The city is trying to crack down on thousands of abandoned or dilapidated properties, a longstanding problem made worse by the foreclosure crisis. Police say the eyesores feed crime, so that appropriately puts it in their court.